A Family RTW Travel Adventure (2008-2009)
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Fifteen Minutes at the Clinic

When Caroline woke with several angry red bumps on the back of her hand and along her wrist, we assumed an insect – perhaps a spider – had bitten her during the night.

At first, our main concern was about the cleanliness of our US$30 a night room at the hostel.  But as the day wore on, our focus shifted to the red welts as they began itch terribly and then multiply.

Soon red blotches and bumps appeared on Caroline’s arms, neck and back.   Either this was one active insect or something else was going on.  We decided we’d better see a doctor.

The young man working at the front desk of our hostel told us there was a medical clinic just two doors down, so off we went, concerned about Caroline and not knowing what to expect.

A dozen people turned to stare when we entered the clinic’s small reception area.  The clinic was full of people waiting to see the doctor, and I mentally prepared myself for a process I expected to take several hours.

It took a couple of tries, but we were able to make the receptionist understand our problem and she motioned for us to wait, then disappeared down a hallway.

When she returned a few minutes later, she told us the doctor would see us, but first we had to pay $40 AR pesos.  I handed over the equivalent of US$13.  Then she motioned for us to follow her and led us to an examination room.  Instantly, the doctor appeared.

He was handsome and young, with jet black hair, European features and the darker complexion common among the indigenas in Northwest Argentina.  He had an ice blue glass eye.

All four of us had gone into the examination room. The doctor greeted us each individually in the traditional Argentine manner, Conor and I with a handshake, Dani and Caroline with a kiss on the cheek.

We explained that Dani and I did not speak Spanish, but that Caroline and Conor did.  He said not to worry, he spoke some English, and that it would be all right.

He quickly examined Caroline, checking the bumps that had now become more of a rash.  He listened to her heart, checked her lymph nodes and asked her several questions in Spanish.

When he had completed his exam he turned to Dani and I and in English said:  “She is having an allergic reaction to something.  There could be many different causes – an insect bite, contact with a plant, or something she ate – but fortunately there is one solution.”

He walked over to a shelf and got a sample package of Allegra.  “This medicine is made in the U.S.,” he said.  “Regardless of what caused this reaction, it will help.  Take one pill a day for five days and you will feel better.”

Once again he shook my hand and Conor’s and kissed Caroline and Dani on the cheek.  He wished us safe travels, and with a small bow, left the room.

We walked back to the reception area to find out how much owed for the prescription.  It took a moment for the receptionist to understand what I was asking, but then she said, “No you have already paid, you can go.”

No forms to fill out.  No questions about insurance. Total cost for the doctor’s visit and prescription: $US13.

Less than fifteen minutes after we had entered the clinic we were on our way back to our hostel, problem solved.

I was stunned.

And within a few hours, Caroline’s rash had begun to fade.


1 Simon Bowman { 10.29.08 at 4:17 am }

Hi Guys,

Loving your blog, It’s been keeping me entertained for a few weeks now. Only found it when someone mentioned to us that they’d found our website from yours, if you see what I mean.

Have to say we had a similar hospital experience in India when Maisie injured her wrist. Smooth, timely service with a minimum of cost – makes you wonder!

We have yet to experience South America, but it’s very much on the table for our next trip.

Safe travels.

2 Faco { 10.29.08 at 6:22 am }

Universal Health Care, oh yeah. We got it in the late 40’s with Peronism in power, but unfortunately the Health Budget has been lowered by almost every goverment ever since.

Since the 90’s we have also Private Health Insurance, only affordable to middle and higher classes, but the public system is still a good option (for some, the only one). Of course it can be improved, but that takes spending too.

Been reading your blog for a while and like it, found it through this one. Hope you’re all better now.

3 mom-mom & pop { 10.29.08 at 6:36 am }

is it a bed bug?

4 Still Life in Buenos Aires { 10.29.08 at 1:29 pm }

Hooray! So glad it was not serious.

My husband and I might move to Santiago for a month in December, so I look forward to your thoughts on the city.

We spent three months trekking around NZ in 2005. I would suggest spending most of your time on the South Island. The North Island is more industrialized, and Auckland is your average sky scraper city. We particularly enjoyed hiking on St. James Walkway in the middle of the South Island. You’ll absolutely love the country.

Try to visit Stewart Island if you can. You have a good chance of seeing kiwis there.

As always, safe travels. 🙂

5 Bethany { 10.29.08 at 5:26 pm }


I love your blog and I just read Caroline’s review and thought she did a great job! I wanted to leave her a comment but I didn’t see an option for that. It’s good to hear that everything went great at the clinic and that the rash is going away.

Keep up the great posts! Beth

6 A Travel Around The World { 10.29.08 at 5:47 pm }

Reading through your post I was panicking for you but glad everything is ok; you know, I am a bit worry thinking of the unexpected things that could happen while travelling but I realised that I must try to think positively..easy to say…

Take care



7 Nomadic Matt { 10.30.08 at 12:21 pm }

13 dollars for allegra! crickey!! that’s expensive.

8 molly { 10.30.08 at 5:33 pm }

That is CRAZY! But the glass eye sounds really cool!

9 Longhorn Dave { 10.31.08 at 1:46 am }

I bet they had no computers at the reception desk too. Just note cards and a regular phone. We love the simple efficiency of the Argentine medical system. On the other hand, there are some downsides. But ,you can’t beat the price!

10 joylani { 11.01.08 at 8:16 am }

hi–i’m in ba and looking for a good (and cheap) clinic to go to. do you happen to remember the name/location of this place? thanks! (nice blog too. i love when families do the rtw together. have fun!)

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